The Faculty of Law at Maastricht University consists of approximately 2,500 students and 250 staff members. The faculty is located in an imposing building in the city centre, fully equipped with all electronic and other facilities. The faculty’s central location in the city centre, with its numerous pavement cafes, bars and restaurants, and the proximity of several other faculties, makes it an authentic inner-city campus.
The faculty’s courses are characterised by their small-scale approach. During the first year there is a maximum of only 15 students in each tutorial group, which makes education intensive and student-centred. Students learn how to acquire new knowledge by solving problems. This method, referred to as Problem-Based Learning (PBL), was originally developed in Maastricht, and has been replicated in many other places. PBL increases students’ knowledge and in particular their ability to deal with new problems, rules, laws and complex situations – an important skill for every lawyer.
The acquisition of new skills is central to PBL: the tutorial groups are guided by a tutor and chaired by a student discussion leader; a student takes notes of the results of the tutorials; a student gives a presentation at every meeting; and students have access to the electronic learning environment. This enables the acquisition of knowledge and insights to be combined with the acquisition of all necessary skills. Proven to be the best way of learning, this method is highly appreciated in professional practice and in continuing education. The small-scale approach allows for individual attention for all students. A great deal of effort is made to guide students in writing papers and preparing presentations. Additionally, students can practice in the faculty mock courtroom, where a lawsuit is imitated in detail.
The faculty is actively and successfully involved in several national and international moot courts. Can you picture yourself pleading before the European Court of Justice, after several years of study, in a moot court with faculties from all over Europe and the United States taking part? This becomes reality for a dozen UM students each year!
The faculty’s education is truly international: considerable attention is devoted to European and International law and comparative law in all bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes. Its staff, too, are composed of many different nationalities; every year there are foreign guest lecturers and many English-taught elective courses are offered. Moreover, the faculty’s cooperation with universities outside the Netherlands allows students to spend a period of study or an internship abroad.
Students at the law faculty are given the opportunity to work as student assistants in the area of education or research – a perfect opportunity to gain more knowledge and skills while earning some extra pocket money.